HBD Thriller! Here's 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Album
Thriller, Michael Jackson’s masterpiece/sixth studio album, turns 33 years old today. It may be gettin’ up there in years, but it continues to rage on in today’s pop culture with youthful vigor. In fact, it’s probably the most popular 33-year-old you know. Thriller has sold over a hundred million copies, and is generally believed to be the highest-selling album of all time. At its peak, it sold an estimated one million copies per week. It’s been more than three decades, and Thriller continues to sell copies in the hundreds of thousands. Damn. Adele is killing it, but even she has some catching up to do.
Thirty-three is, quite literally, an odd number, and Jackson was, to put it charitably, kind of an odd dude. So, in honor of said strangeness, here are some even weirder facts about the album. For no mere mortal can resist the evil of Thriller.
Michael Jackson had a pet tiger named Thriller
There’s no point in being an eccentric pop icon if you can’t fill a zoo with your exotic pets, and MJ certainly agreed. While she wasn’t the adorable lil cub that posed with Jackson on a special-edition cover of Thriller, Thriller herself was one of the many animals that lived with him on his Neverland ranch. She was thirteen years old when she died of lung cancer in 2012 at a California wildlife preserve, but she will live forever in our hearts.
The zombies from the video still keep in touch
If you thought your family reunions are ugly, remind yourself that at least your brother’s green skin isn’t falling off of his face. Jokes aside, though, we love knowing that many of the zombie dancers from the video still keep in touch, and sometimes even have reunions. When you spend six weeks rehearsing the same dance with the same people for 18 hours a day, it’s hard not to form bonds—or to turn into a literal zombie. They must have been really, really tired.
The album was actually part of an evil plot to kill disco
Sure, it was the highest selling album in history, but commercial success was not the primary goal. According to producer Quincy Jones, he and the singer had something a little more diabolical in mind. “Our underlying plan was to take disco out. That was the bottom line,” Jones said, discussing the album on its 30th anniversary. “It had gone far enough.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses were not happy
MJ was born and raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which would explain why the “Thriller” music video would open up with the text: “Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.” Despite the disclaimer, the Jehovah’s Witness community was upset with the video’s imagery. When MJ heard that they wanted to excommunicate him, he ordered to have the film destroyed. Luckily, the director and editor hid the film from him until he changed his mind.
Zombies shop at thrift stores, too
Turns out, you don’t actually have to spend a million dollars to dress like someone in a music video–as long as that someone is a decaying corpse. All of the clothes for the zombies in the video, it has been said, were purchased at the Salvation Army. So next time you pick something up from a thrift store and it smells really bad, don’t worry—it’s probably just because it’s been used to clothe the undead.
Images via Epic Records, Bornrich, the Huffington Post and Black Enterprise